All Criminal Law Topics

Learn about some specific types of criminal offenses.

All Criminal Law TopicsWe all make mistakes. When we do, it is important not to make things worse through ignorance of the law or of our rights. If you find yourself facing criminal investigation or prosecution because of choices you have made, the more information you have about the law, the process, and your rights, the less likely you will say or do something that compromises your defense.’s Criminal Law Center contains information on a wide range of topics affecting potential criminal defendants, from an overview of the criminal justice system, to some of the specific defenses you can raise to a criminal charge. You will find summaries of your rights under the U.S. Constitution, as well as information on how you can seal or expunge a criminal record.

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All Criminal Law Topics Practice Areas

  • Learn how the FBI classifies and defines various personal and property crimes.

    Crime Classifications and Definitions

  • There are three components to the criminal justice system:arrest or detention, adjudication, and punishment.

    The Criminal Justice System

  • In a criminal case, even if you admit to committing the crime, you may raise any of a number of defenses to challenge or deny legal responsibility, including insanity, incapacity, self-defense, and duress.

    Defenses to Crimes

  • The criminal charge most frequently prosecuted is drunk driving, known alternatively as driving under the influence (DUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI).


  • In certain circumstances, you can seek to expunge, or permanently seal, the public record of a prior arrest or conviction.


  • Certain crimes, considered by society to be serious in nature, are identified as felonies. Felonies can carry substantial penalties, including substantial fines and prison time.


  • Property crimes are offenses that involve an individual’s wrongful acquisition, or destruction, of property that belongs to another individual.

    Crimes Involving Theft

  • Under some state and federal statutes, if law enforcement officials believe you have been involved in criminal activity (most commonly drug violations), you may face the loss or forfeiture of any property perceived to be obtained with the proceeds from illegal activity, even though you may not be charged with or convicted of a crime.

    Criminal Forfeiture

  • The U.S. Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, sets forth specific rights for anyone under investigation for, detained, or charged with a crime. The federal courts have further defined the scope of these rights.

    Fundamental Rights of the Accused

  • In the juvenile justice system, penalties tend to lean toward rehabilitation, rather than punishment. In most instances, juveniles will be treated less harshly, even if their crime is one for which an adult would be penalized. Some juvenile offenses, though, are merely status offenses, which would not be crimes if committed by adults.

    Juvenile Offenses

  • Although a misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony, it may nonetheless involve incarceration and substantial fines. The terminology and sanctions related to misdemeanors vary from state to state.

    Misdemeanor Crimes

  • Learn about various types of criminal offenses.

    Other Criminal Law

  • Traffic offenses are generally governed by state or municipal laws. Though frequently considered minor infractions, traffic tickets can lead to significant expense and even the loss of driving privileges.

    Traffic Tickets

  • Certain non-violent crimes, committed by individuals with access to records, property, or financial accounts, have become known as white collar crimes. These illegal acts include fraud, embezzlement, corruption, bribery, and money laundering, among others.

    White-Collar Crimes

  • Americans are ensured certain protections against unreasonable search and seizure by the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Search and Seizure

  • Sex crimes are considered serious breaches of the social contract. These crimes, which are generally governed by state law, range from public indecency to rape and may be punished as misdemeanors or felonies. Learn about how these offenses are defined here.

    Sex Crimes

  • What constitutes a controlled substance? What are the consequences for the sale or possession of a controlled substance? Growing awareness of the dangers of certain kinds of drugs and an increased tolerance of others have wrought changes in the law. Since drug offenses remain some of the most harshly punished crimes, it is vital to know what sorts of acts and what types of substances are prohibited by U.S. law.

    Drug Offenses

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